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Dec 6, 2012

The Oakland Police Department, notorious for decades as a tough outfit in a tough town, is getting court-ordered supervision, the ultimate result of a wide-ranging brutality case.


From Matthew Artz in the Oakland Tribune: " After more than a decade of failing to meet a federal judge's order to reform its police department, Oakland became the first U.S. city Wednesday to willfully surrender authority over its command staff to a court-appointed director."


"The federal officer, whose official title will be compliance director, would have wide ranging powers to force Oakland to fully comply with a decade-old reform plan that settled the infamous Riders police brutality scandal. The agreement, which still must be approved by a federal judge, will not displace Oakland's current police brass."


"However, in order to ensure that the reforms are pushed through, the federal officer will have the power to fire Chief Howard Jordan, overrule him on major decisions, demote his command staff and order expenditures of up to $250,000."


Speaking of the feds, they are sending observers to California courts to make sure there are sufficient number of interpreters in civil and family-law cases.


From California Watch's Bernice Yeung: "U.S. Department of Justice representatives will visit California this month as part of an ongoing investigation into whether the state's courts are violating federal laws for failing to provide interpreters in many civil and family law cases."


"The investigation stems from a December 2010 complaint filed by the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles on behalf of two litigants who were not provided with Korean interpreters for their court hearings. The complaint alleges that in failing to provide the interpreters, the courts violated Title VI of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits national origin discrimination."


"These cases “are just two examples of many LAFLA (Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles) clients who have been denied access to the courts based on their limited-English proficiency,” according to the complaint."


The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll shows a growing support for Jerry Brown and more confidence in the direction the state is taking -- and even an indication that voters support basic changes in the tax structure.


From CalBuzz's Jerry Roberts and Phil Trounstine: "Gov. Jerry Brown’s job approval rating is at a record-high, Californians are feeling more positive about the direction of the state and while Proposition 13 remains popular, so too is the notion of a “split roll” – leaving residential property tax rates alone but taxing commercial properties at their market value."


"These are some of the findings of the latest statewide survey from the Public Policy Institute of California that reveals increasing optimism and readiness to engage a number of budget reforms that could put the state on an even firmer footing going forward."


:With Brown’s 48% job approval rating – his highest ever – and 44% of the population seeing California on the right track – the highest level since June 2007 – the governor and Legislature are well-positioned to take on important challenges."


A move is afoot to creat an offshore sanctuary along the spectacular Sonoma and Mendocino coasts.


From the Mercury News' Paul Rogers: "California lawmakers are quietly mounting a campaign to persuade President Barack Obama to protect a 50-mile stretch of California coast along Sonoma and Mendocino counties by the end of this month -- a move that would permanently ban offshore oil drilling there and create California's largest ocean preserve in 20 years."


"The group, led by Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-San Rafael, and Sen. Barbara Boxer, is asking Obama to sign an executive order establishing a new offshore national monument extending from Bodega Bay near the Marin County-Sonoma County border north to Point Arena in Mendocino County."


"The area is one of the West's most scenic coastal landscapes, famous for its steep cliffs, rugged wind-swept bluffs and long sandy beaches. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, oil companies showed interest in sinking new rigs off the area, which includes the communities of Jenner, Sea Ranch and Gualala, along with Fort Ross, a former Russian fur-trading outpost dating back to 1812."


Crab boats in San Francsico are staying at the dock as part of a battle with fish brokers, who sharply cut the cost of the delectable crustacean.


From the Chronicle's Carl Nolte: "More than a hundred crab fishing boats went on strike and stayed in harbor Wednesday in a dispute over prices that has caused a shortage of Dungeness crab in the Bay Area."


"The trouble started Sunday when crab boat skippers heard that fish brokers were planning to cut the prices they pay for fresh crab from $3 per pound to as low as $1.80."


"No crab boats are leaving the dock," said Larry Collins, president of the Crab Boat Owners Association in San Francisco. Collins said all three principal crab fishing ports were affected - San Francisco, Half Moon Bay and Bodega Bay."

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